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Flip The Script

I don’t know about you, but I will often think of the things that are going wrong for me, or that aren’t working for me rather than the things that are going well. These types of thoughts and subsequent feelings add to our overwhelm in an almost invisible way. They aren’t a messy house or a billion errands or doctors appointments, but they are just as valid. Being plagued by negative thoughts, thoughts that create anxiety and a physical response to stress add a huge amount to our load.

Have you ever heard of ‘Negativity Bias’?

It’s when the mind puts more emphasis on negative experiences than positive ones.

As a parent, it’s often easier to focus on the negative things your kids do than the positive things, especially if you have a child that really loves to drive you crazy.

This is a human tendency, you’re not bad if that’s how you tend to think, but just because it’s fairly normal, doesn’t mean we should be accepting it.

We all know a person that is always looking on the bright side of life, always finding the silver lining, but sometimes, just like Kimmy Schmidt, that can be super annoying, but are those people happier? Probably. What can we learn from people like that who have clearly worked hard to change their natural negative tendency into a positive one?

I was actually just thinking about this last week. I am a really goal orientated and solution focussed person, and so I am often thinking about the things that are not working for me and that I want to fix. Whether it be the fact that I cannot keep my pantry organised, that I am forever reminding my kids to get their stuff done (someone help me! Also somebody really needs to create a 'Tearing Hair Out Emoji' for me) or that I don’t like the way some of my automatic thoughts make me feel.

I then take my 3 step process of Assess - Reflect - Grow to implement changes I want to make.

If you've ever seen a therapist that works using Narrative Therapy, you may have learnt about finding the exceptions. When is the negative thing that you are experiencing, not around? When are you free from the problem? Then you explore why, and how you can replicate that in other areas of your life.

So what if we flip the whole thing over?

What if we see what we DO like, and replicate that instead?

It’s definitely harder to do. Our minds don’t naturally look at what IS working for us, it’s not as easy to pinpoint as the negative things in our lives.

Let’s give it a try.

List 3 things that are NOT working for you, that are causing you stress and that you want to work on.

And then list 3 things that are going well for you.

How much easier is it to write a list (probably more than 3, let’s be honest) of negative things that aren’t serving us than a list of things we are happy with that are working for us?

One basic simple way we can start to flip the script is to focus on what we are grateful for.

My 10 year old in particular has a habit of always focussing on the negative. He is super sensitive and has anxious tendencies, so for him finding the positives is really hard. After a bit of a think and strategising, we are implementing a gratefulness focus for him, and by default, the entire family.

For us as parents, it means being more aware of how we frame our problems, and, as we lead and model how we do that, it will be picked up by the kids. We will focus on things that we are thankful for when we have our meal times together or when we are in the car together.

I will also be taking seemingly negative experiences and reframing them when I speak to the kids so they can see the process of how we can change our perspectives, and that we are in charge of how we view things and what we focus on.

But back to us adults, here are 3 ways you can help train yourself to focus on the positive things in your life, and even potentially find something positive in a perceived negative event.

  1. Find 3 things you are grateful for every day. You can do this in the morning, in the evening or when you remember in the day. Set yourself a reminder on your phone if you think you might forget. (That’s me!)

  2. Catch yourself in your automatic negative thought. This becomes easier with practice, I promise.

  3. Find a buddy. Tell your kids, your partner, your Mum or your bestie. Send them a text every day of what you are grateful for. It’s helpful to have someone who knows what you’re trying to do, both for you and the other person as well.

Remember, this is all about habit creation, and focussing on gratefulness is a simple yet super effective way to reverse the negative thinking habit and flip the script.

Do you need help flipping the script in your thinking?

Email for 1 on 1 coaching plans available to you.


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